Welcome to the Caspian Daily, where you will find the 10 most important things you need to know on Caspian Sea Region. We appreciate ideas, reports, news and interesting articles. Send along to Caspian[at]moderndiplomacy.eu or on Twitter: @DGiannakopoulos
1Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian leader Vladimir Putin both point the finger at Europe and the United States for what has now become one of the biggest mass migrations of people in modern times.”To be honest, the whole Western world is to be blamed in my opinion on this issue,” Erdogan told CNN on Thursday. Putin, talking to reporters Friday, said it’s the West’s wrong-headed foreign policy in the Middle East and Northern Africa that’s at the root of the crisis.The image of 2-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s body, face down in the surf of a Turkish beach, rocketed around the world. He died along with his 4-year-old brother and mother — three of several thousand refugees and migrants who have perished while trying to find safety in Europe.Europe’s response so far has been disjointed and divided, prompting nations to scramble for a cohesive response. The crisis will be front-and-center when EU foreign ministers meet at an informal gathering in Luxembourg on Friday. The nations will send their home ministers for emergency talks in Brussels on September 14.
2Russia is interested in both foreign and domestic investment, especially in the country’s Far East region, President Vladimir Putin told the Eastern Economic Forum on Friday.Making an appeal to countries from the Asia-Pacific region, Putin said his government will increase efforts to develop Russia’s Far East.”(We) will provide to investors the best conditions to do business so the Far East of Russia can successfully compete in terms of efficiency and return on capital with leading business centers,” Putin told the conference in Vladivostok. He added that the country’s largest oil firm, Rosneft , will invest 1.3 trillion roubles ($19.56 billion) in projects in the region.
3Misrepresenting Azerbaijan. “Over the last several years, the Republic of Azerbaijan, widely acknowledged and praised for its commitment and pursuit of religious tolerance, has become a target of harsh criticism by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIF). Apparently, somewhat confused about its mandate, the commission issues statements about political issues, which have nothing to with religion and religious freedom, refers to places within Azerbaijan by Armenian names revealing, inadvertently perhaps, its sources of information. Also, in its criticism of the country it follows the lines used frequently by the Iranian mullahs. Sadly, this reflects both the apparent personal bias and the lack of expertise and first-hand knowledge by the commission’s staff” Maayan Jaffe- The Washington Times.
4Azerbaijan: Is It Time to Consider Sanctions? “Some regional experts want the United States and European Union to consider imposing economic and political penalties on Azerbaijan to put pressure on Baku to respect basic individual freedoms. The sentencing of investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova to a seven-and-a-half-year prison sentence on September 1 should be seen as a tipping point in relations between the United States and European Union and Azerbaijan, some rights advocates contend. Ismayilova was convicted on criminal charges of embezzlement, abuse of power and illegal business practices. Her supporters contend the case against her was fabricated to stop her investigations into the corrupt practices of top Azerbaijani officials and their family members” Giorgi Lomsadze- Eurasianet.
5Rocky economy tests friendship of Putin and Xi. “Mr. Putin has enjoyed basking in the stature of Mr. Xi, who leads one of the world’s largest economies. But with the recent stock market turmoil in China and the slowest economic growth in a quarter-century, Beijing will be unable to provide the ballast that Mr. Putin has sought against economic sanctions imposed on Russia by Europe and the United States after its annexation of Crimea, not to mention plummeting oil prices worldwide. “Russia was dependent on China growing and driving the demand for its commodities: oil, gas and minerals,” said Fiona Hill, a Russia specialist at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “China was an alternative to Europe.” JANE PERLEZ and NEIL MacFARQUHAR- The New York Times.
6Saudi King Salman will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on Friday to seek more support in countering Iran, as the Obama administration aims to use the visit to shore up relations after a period of tensions. The visit is the king’s first to the United States since ascending to the throne in January, and comes after the United States agreed to a nuclear deal with Iran in July, raising Gulf Arab fears that the lifting of sanctions on Iran would enable it to pursue destabilising policies in the Middle East. Despite the tensions, the two countries depend on each other on crucial security, business, and economic issues. Saudi Arabia remains the world’s largest oil exporter, and its commitment to pumping oil freely despite a recent price decline has helped contribute to sustaining the U.S. economic recovery. Obama and Salman will discuss global energy markets during the visit, the White House said.
7Russia is condemning itself to repeat history. “Russia, flexing old imperial muscles, now sees history as a weapon in the neo-imperialist armory. Not for the present regime the muddled forays into the dark — Soviet — past. Unlike the government of President Boris Yeltsin, which came to power through the ruins of the Soviet Union, President Vladimir Putin needs the past to be scrubbed clean of all possible embarrassments. The Soviet period — in which the working class lad he was rose to be a lieutenant colonel in the KGB — is seen again, with some regrettable lapses, as a period of heroism and global power” John Lloyd- Reuters.
8Azerbaijan`s Minister of Defense Zakir Hasanov has met with British Ambassador to the country Irfan Siddiq. The sides discussed the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as well as exchanged views over military and political situation in the region, military cooperation between the two countries and regional security. They also discussed issues related to Minister Zakir Hasanov`s upcoming visit to Great Britain, AzerTac state news agency reported.
9Mr. Masood Ahmed, Director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department visited Kazakhstan on September 2–4, for meetings with the authorities and other stakeholders. At the conclusion of his visit, Mr. Ahmed made the following statement: “Like other countries in the region, Kazakhstan has been hit by large external shocks (oil prices, Russia and China slowdown). Against the backdrop of these shocks, economic growth has decelerated sharply and financial conditions have tightened. As a result, the growth outlook has weakened. However, I was impressed by the authorities’ determination to put in place the policies needed to ensure macroeconomic and financial stability”
10The President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhammadov received Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Germany Ralf Andreas Brett, who presented his credentials. During the meeting, the sides exchanged views on a wide range of issues of cooperation, given the priorities of the state development of the two countries. It was earlier reported that the trade turnover between Turkmenistan and Germany has increased by 11 percent in recent years. Over 60 business entities with German share have opened their branches and representative offices in Turkmenistan.
Lavrov: Russia had ‘no choice’ but to launch ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine
Faced with the “inability” of Western countries to negotiate and the Ukrainian Government’s “war against its own people” in the east, Russia had “no choice” but to launch what the Government refers to as its special military operation, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the UN General Assembly on Saturday.
The operation launched on 24 February had been carried out to protect Russians living in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and eliminate threats to Russian security, said Mr. Lavrov, that the EU and United States-led NATO military alliance had consistently created in the territory, since what he described as the “bloody coup” by the current “Kyiv regime”, in 2014.
“I am convinced that any sovereign, self-respecting State would do the same in our stead, which understands its responsibility to its own people.”
‘Throwing a fit’
Mr. Lavrov accused the West of “throwing a fit” over this weekend’s referenda being conducted in the Donbas and other Russian-controlled areas on becoming a part of the Russian Federation, countering that people there were simply following an order from Kyiv, to “get out and to go to Russia”.
The Russian Foreign Minister said the crises surrounding the war were growing, and the international situation was rapidly deteriorating, but instead of having an honest dialogue and searching for compromise, the West was “undermining confidence in international institutions” and encouraging negative tendencies within the United Nations as well.
He said the United States was trying to turn the whole world into its “backyard”, and together with its partners, punishing dissenters from its world view, through what he called “illegal unilateral sanctions” which violate the UN Charter, and hurt poor citizens in poorer countries, targeting their medicines, vaccines and food imports.
Attempts by the US to impose dividing lines, telling nations “you’re either with us or against us”, meant that instead of “honest dialogue” there was instead “disinformation, crude staging, and provocations”.
He praised the UN Secretary-General for mobilizing efforts to overcome the global food and energy crisis fuelled by the war but blamed the West for economic mismanagement in the pandemic, claiming that sanctions against his country amounted to an “economic war against Russia.”
He praised the Black Sea Grain Initiative to free up food and fertilizer from Ukraine, and Russia, to alleviate price inflation and supply, but said the poorest countries were still not benefitting, and again criticized the US and EU for not fully removing “obstacles” to Russian exports he said were trapped in European ports.
Mr. Lavrov told the Assembly that there was now a “crusade by the West against the objectionables”, with NATO seeing Russia as simply a threat to its domination of the region and beyond.
Furthermore, Russophobia, he said, had reached unprecedented proportions, with Western powers making no secret of their ambition to militarily defeat Russia, and try to “destroy and fracture Russia…What they want to do is to remove from the global map, a geopolitical entity, which has become all too independent.”
He warned countries beyond Europe and North America, that the Western alliance, in an effort to impose its will, was seeking to expand influence and hegemony further into Asia, South America, and Africa, and ended his remarks by quoting the hugely influential and charismatic second UN Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjöld:
Save humanity from hell
“The UN wasn’t created to take mankind to paradise, but rather to save humanity from hell. These are very topical words. They call upon us, to understand our individual and collective responsibility for creating conditions for a peaceful and harmonious development for our future generations, and everyone needs to show political will for that.”
Ending his speech on a conciliatory note, and a nod to a brighter future for multilateralism, he said he was convinced that the stability of the world order could be ensured, by returning to “the origins of UN diplomacy”, based on the key principle of “sovereign equality of States”.
War crimes have been committed in Ukraine conflict
Almost seven months to the day since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, UN-appointed independent human rights investigators said that war crimes have indeed been committed in the conflict.
The finding came in the first report by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, which was set up in March this year, at the request of Human Rights Council Member States.
Much of the Commission’s work focused on investigations in the regions of Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and Sumy, where allegations of the most serious rights violations were made against Russian, or Russian-backed forces, early in the war.
Commission chairperson Erik Møse said that investigators visited 27 towns and settlements and interviewed more than 150 victims and witnesses. They also inspected “sites of destruction, graves, places of detention and torture”, as well as remnants of weapons.
“Based on the evidence gathered so far during the Commission’s existence, we found out after having carried out the investigations in these four areas just mentioned, we found that war crimes have been committed in Ukraine,” he told journalists in Geneva.
It documented unlawful killings – including summary executions of civilians – in more than 30 settlements in Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy regions, by Russian armed forces while they controlled these areas in late February and March.
Other key findings from the report include the surprisingly “large number of executions” in 16 towns and settlements, where “common elements” of the crimes included “visible signs of executions on bodies, such as hands tied behind backs, gunshot wounds to the head, and slit throats”.
The report, delivered to the Human Rights Council earlier on Friday, also documented how explosive weapons had been used by the Russian Federation forces, “without distinguishing between civilians and combatants in populated areas”.
“We were struck by a large number of executions and other violations by Russian forces, and the Commission received consistent accounts of torture and ill-treatment.”
Sexual violence, including against children
Horrific allegations of sexual violence against Ukrainian communities – including children – were also found to be based in fact.
“The Commission investigated cases of sexual gender-based violence. It documented cases in which some Russian Federation soldiers made such crime,” said Commissioner Jasminka Džumhur.
Ukrainian forces were also responsible for human rights violations, said Commissioner Pablo de Greiff: “We have found two instances of ill-treatment of Russian Federation soldiers by Ukrainian soldiers, and we mentioned this in our statement. We have found obviously significantly larger numbers of instances that amount to war crimes on the part of the Russian Federation.”
Ireland: Rights experts call for redress for 50 years of systemic racism in childcare institutions
UN-appointed independent human rights experts on Friday called on Irish authorities to provide adequate redress for victims of racial discrimination and system racism in Irish childcare institutions, stretching over more than 50 years.
Citing information received, 10 experts issued a joint statement saying that systemic racism in childcare institutions between the 1940s and 1990s, has “resulted in the higher institutionalization rate of children of African and Irish descent”.
During their prolonged time there, children were exposed to heightened risk of corporal punishment, sexual, physical and verbal abuse, with lifelong consequences, including infringing their right to enjoy the highest standard of physical and mental health. Some of them were also subjected to vaccine trials.
Despite welcoming the Irish Government’s Action Plan to provide tangible benefits for survivors and former residents of mother and baby and county home institutions, the experts sent them a letter containing their allegations of racial discrimination in April.
In it, they raised the alarm that children of African and Irish descent were “subjected to differential treatment because of their race, colour and/or descent, leading to further violations of their human rights”.
In response, the Irish Government referred to the official State apology offered on 13 January 2021 in which the country recognized the “additional impact which a lack of knowledge and understanding had on the treatment and outcomes of mothers and children with different racial and cultural heritage”.
It continued, acknowledging that such “discriminatory attitudes exacerbated the shame and stigma felt by some of our most vulnerable citizens, especially where opportunities for non-institutional placement of children were restricted by an unjust belief that they were unsuitable for placement with families”.
Although the State apology is an important element of the restorative justice process, the experts said it was “not enough”.
Because of the systemic racial discrimination that prevailed in the childcare institutions at the time, the experts underscored that they had, in effect, had their “childhood stolen” from them.
“We are seriously concerned over the severe and continuing effects that racial discrimination and systematic racism have had on the lives of the adults who are currently seeking redress,” the statement read.
Under international law, States have an obligation to ensure accountability for past human rights violations and provide full reparation to the victims, when these violations still have an impact.
The independent experts called on the Irish Government to “take further action to provide those who were subjected to differential treatment in childcare institutions with effective remedies”.
A future scheme to address rights violations, “must recognize and provide redress for all the human rights violations perpetrated against children during the entire duration of their stay in Irish institutions, including mother and baby homes, industrial schools, reformatories, Magdalen Laundries and analogous institutions, as well as life-long impacts”, the statement continued.
In conclusion, they noted that a proposed “Bill Payment Scheme” provides an avenue of redress “for the harms caused due to racial discrimination and systemic racism to which children of African and Irish descent were subjected”.
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